Since the dawn of time, broth and stock made from animal bones has been used to cure ills. Known as ‘Jewish penicillin’ and the ‘cure all’ broths of the olden times, today we now know a good quality stock will actually boost the immune system, sooth the digestive system and strengthen our bodies.

Unfortunately these days due to modern meat processing, the valuable bones for stock often are thrown away and we instead reach from the instant stock varieties that often lack the goodness of a true stock and can contain additives such as MSG and yeast that we would otherwise want to avoid.

Why is stock so good for us?

Stock contains the minerals rich in bones, cartilage and marrow, electrolytes from vegetables and health boosting constituents of herbs all easily and quickly absorbed and assimilated into our bodies. The acid from vinegar added in the stock making process draws out minerals from the bones and the rich gelatine from the cartilage is full of healing properties specific to our digestive system and joints.

If you are vegetarian or vegan and aren’t using bones, add some shitake mushrooms for their immune boosting effects as well as flavour.

So this winter, let’s get back to basics and cook up a big batch of nutritious stocks. You can freeze in batches to use over a period of time in soups, sauces and stews for immune boosting benefits this winter. It’s easy!

Stock can be made from any animal boney leftovers including lamb, beef and fish.  Below is my chicken stock recipe to help you get started.

My Chicken stock recipe

  • Approx. 4L of Cold water (preferably filtered)
  • 1 – 1.5kg of boney chicken pieces e.g. carcass, wings, and legs. Can be a combination or 1 whole chicken cut into pieces. Please choose organic and note that organic carcasses and wings is the cheapest way to do this. The Chicken pieces needs to fit comfortably in your large pot with water covering.  
  • 2 tbsp. vinegar e.g. apple cider, white or brown vinegar, white wine vinegar
  • 2 carrots peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 3 celery sticks chopped
  • 1 onion quartered
  • 1 bunch of fresh mixed herbs (whatever you have available such as sage, tarragon, thyme, parsley, marjoram

Place all ingredients in a large pot and bring slowly to a simmer.  Remove any scum of the top as you go. Cook for anywhere between 1-12 hours. I usually like to cook it for around 4-6hrs. The longer you cook it the more the bones and cartilages break down, releasing their nutrition. The liquid will also reduce, becoming more concentrated.

When finished, remove bones and chicken pieces. I like to remove any chicken meat and set aside for salads and sandwiches.  Allow to cool. If you wish, you can place for 30mins in the refrigerator to allow fat to rise to the top and harden, then you can skim off.  Strain stock into containers for refrigeration or freezing to use as needed. Putting some into ice cube trays is handy for making baby mashes. The stock can be refrigerated for a few days.